Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Real Essence of Trials

The variety and disparity of feelings and opinions on the Casey Anthony verdict offers a timely opportunity to review the real purpose and conduct of trials.

As I state in the lectures on courtroom testimony and demeanor that I present to security officers,  a courtroom is not necessarily or unequivocally a place where justice is served; rather, it is a stage where situations and words are manipulated and where attorneys use the tools of credibility and persuasion to attain a desired result (hopefully with justice as a product).  A trial is basically and primarily a process of credibility vs. non-credibility – the side that is most believable usually wins, because every word uttered in court is subject to interpretation, analysis and impeachment.  A somewhat cynical description, but accurate.

As has been demonstrated in mock trials and moot courts, cases tried with the same basic sets of facts and evidence but presented by different litigators using different strategies and techniques can produce completely opposite verdicts.  And in the real world, we all know that the “quality” and/or intensity of prosecution and/or defense representation can have a profound effect on trials.

The moral:  While the facts of a case are undoubtedly important, the manner and style of case strategy and presentation is also of great importance.  This is a crucial concept to remember for security professionals who become involved and/or testify in legal matters as case principals, consultants and/or experts.